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Proposed school causing controversy, USA
Sep. 17, 2003
Erik O'Hearn • Thursday September 18, 2003

Human potential school or controversial enterprise? That’s what some people in Halfmoon are trying to find out.

The futuristic building complex for NXIVM is almost as unique as its name. Spelled in Roman numerals and pronounced “Nexium,” this controversial company and its Executive Success Programs, founded by RPI graduate Keith Raniere and his protege Nancy Salzman, has become a source of concern in Halfmoon.

The program is designed to teach people how to “maximize their potential,” but the company has come under fire for what some claim is cult-like activity.

Salzman said, “It’s a school of critical thinking. So it’s so opposite of that, it’s kind of funny.”

Residents are suspicious of NXIVM’s operations, but said their over-riding concern is over increased traffic the complex will generate. Although the lot is approved for commercial use, many people feel such a large complex poses safety issues.

Resident Tammy Quinn said, “They’re claiming to have 150 to 200 vehicles in and out of this parking lot. With all the kids and the children that come up to this bus stop, it just seems very dangerous to have something like this here.”

Over 100 residents have signed a petition opposing the new complex. The town board said it will take concerns about congestion, traffic and safety into consideration. But as far as the cult claims go, right now the board is sticking strictly to the legal issues.

Halfmoon town supervisor Ken DeCerce said, “I go by ordinances. The people of this town elected me to be the watch person of this kind of activity. If they meet those criteria, then we don’t have any recourse as to allow them or disallow them.”

Residents continue to raise concerns over investigations into the company, but Salzman said they have ulterior motives.

She said, “The neighbors would prefer that no commercial dwelling be built on that land, and therefore anything that will help them to make that happen they’re going to grab.”

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